42nd Street at Theatre Royal Drury LaneCultureTheatre
From the moment the curtain gradually lifts to reveal rows upon rows of tapping feet, the breathtaking choreographies of 42nd Street cast their charming spell on the audience. Dazzling musical numbers are framed by spectacular sets and a stunning array of costumes: no expense seems to have been spared for the revival of this Broadway classic. The production stars Grammy Award winner Sheena Easton, who adds a fierce edge with her strong presence and warm vocals.
It is 1933, and celebrated director Julian Marsh (Tom Lister) is putting on a new show, attracting scores of hopeful performers. Famed star Dorothy Brock (Sheena Easton) is cast in the lead, simply to ensure that her rich partner funds the project. In the meantime, talented chorus girl Peggy Sawyer (Clare Halse) is overwhelmed by the harsh reality of showbiz. When Dorothy injures her ankle during rehearsals, Peggy is fired for causing the accident, but her talent ultimately allows her to claim the limelight, amid great pressures to succeed.
While the plot is scanty, the musical is so magnificently dressed that one forgives the writers for providing little more than a justification for the songs and dances to be performed. The dazzle is not without substance, however, as the dancers perform outstanding tap numbers, often provoking cheers from the audience, and the songs are delivered with impeccable flair. The technical ability of the cast is satisfyingly on point in all departments, and the opportunities to exhibit their skills come thick and fast.
The story is set during The Great Depression, and the bleak shadow of prospective poverty is the motivating force behind the characters’ desperate clinging to every opportunity. Technically flawless, the show could perhaps do with more emotional involvement to carry it further into the audience’s appreciation. However, since musicals are to a degree exempt from having to explore complex psychological dimensions, one simply relishes the visual wonders of 42nd Street, and recognises it as the sort of musical production that sets the standard for the rest.
Impressive and awe-inspiring, 42nd Street takes the wow factor to a whole new level. Musical lovers cannot afford to miss it.
Photos: Brinkhoff & Moegenburg
42nd Street is at Theatre Royal Drury Lane from 20th March until 6th September 2017. Book your tickets here.